Monday, February 19, 2007

The state of journalism

I’ve been reading a lot of articles and blogs about journalisms. I find that in Malaysia, most journalist are not really trained to be journalists but have ‘fallen’ into the profession by chance or for the sake of trying something different.

I still call myself a broadcast journalists. I’ve been absolutely lucky in the fact that I had the opportunity to study in the American university system. I believe it’s the best system to train one to be a journalists. Why you might ask? Well, for one, a journalist is a Jack of all trades, master of none. He has to have a broad view of everything. In the American university system, one is encouraged (and sometimes required if you’re a journalism major) to take up various courses outside of the field of mass communication, which journalism falls under.

While I was looking up a copy of my university transcript I looked back at the classes I have taken and looking back I’m glad I took those classes even though some of it I barely scrapped through with a C (okay, I admit, I failed one!). In my first semester in uni, I took the history of Rock & Roll for my music class. I know, it sounds totally frivolous but trust me, I appreciated it so much now. When ever I try to pick a song when I’m editing something, I look back at the various genres of music that I have learned and know at least where to start searching. I still beam with pride every time I see the A that I got for the class. The professor graded the class of about 200 students on a bell curve so only about 10 students got an A. I was so into the class I totally forgot I hated studying.

A good journalist would have a strong interest in the humanities like psychology, sociology, economics and also geography. Originally, I wanted to be a psychologist and I took quite a number of classes in that field but eventually I thought I might end up like Hannibal Lecter, using my knowledge for evil instead (okay, that was a bit paranoid). I find that the psychology and sociology classes really useful in the sense that it helped me better understand society and people better. I forgive people’s for their actions better because I understand sometimes they don’t have control over their anger, its their personality trait.

I took geography with my roommate Klye one semester and I only managed to get a B. The class was a really basic geography class where the professor just showed us a map of the world and named every major city and that was our test. Looking back, now I know most obscure countries or capital cities.

Sometimes I wonder how come I was never interested in all these subjects when I was in secondary school. I did miserably in the science stream but yet, I loved studying history and biology on my own.

Anyway, going back to what makes a good journalists. I think ultimately, a good journalists should be a good story teller. The journalism profession is a continuation of the old profession of the bard… the journeying story teller who sang about the people he has met. He has to tell his story in an interesting way and also know what would interest his listeners.

The journalism industry is an industry only for those really passionate about it. Those who enter it with other intentions or glorified and romanticized views of it don’t last long. They don’t last more than 3-5 years in the industry.

When I audition or interview people who want to enter the industry, what I look most for is passion… the desire to make the world a better place. Deep down, I want to find someone to take over my work when I’m not around anymore and hopefully, they’ll find someone just as passionate as they are. The learning curve is quite high for those without the academic background, but I still believe passion is what is most important.

I rather have someone prove me wrong and who can argue passionately about issues with me in an interview. Looking back, that was what I exactly did in my job interview. Maybe that’s what got me hired.

Tell me you believe that the world can be a better place and you can help and you might have a job.

1 comment:

sensei said...

When are you leaving?